Mortgage Interest Rates Could Hit Rock Bottom Today

Last Updated May 21, 2010 7:15 AM EDT

This week, mortgage interest rates hit their lowest level for a year. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage could be had for as little as 4.84 percent, plus closing costs, providing you have great credit and enough cash for closing costs, reserves and a 20 percent down payment.

That's low.

Interest rates haven't been this low since December, when the 30-year rate hit 4.81 percent. The 50-year low was reached in the fourth quarter, with the 30-year rate falling to 4.71 percent.

So, what's going on? The Federal Reserve had picked up $1.25 trillion in mortgage backed securities over the past 18 months, a program that ended in March. Mortgage interest rates were widely expected to jump at that point.

But then came the PIIGS - Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain - and their debt woes. Greece's likely default on what was originally reported to be $60 billion in debt, which grew to $140 billion, which resulted in last week's $1 trillion bailout, has shaken the confidence of the bond markets.

So, traders do what they always do when they're nervous - they run back to U.S. Treasuries. Which made interest rates fall. And since mortgage interest rates are tied U.S. Treasuries, mortgage interest rates fell as well.

What's going to happen today? Maybe nothing. On the other hand, it's Friday, the day after a 364-point drop. We're just about back to 10,000 on the Dow, a place we haven't been since February. We're at an official 10 percent correction (and counting?).

But the real reason to watch the market today is that no one likes to be caught flat-footed over the weekend, since so much news happens on the weekend these days and the Asian markets and European markets open on Sunday.

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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at
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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.